Was confrontation between MSU's Tom Izzo, Gabe Brown over the line?
A heated exchange between Michigan State coach Tom Izzo and junior Gabe Brown just before halftime of Thursday night's First Four game against UCLA had social media whirring.
Television cameras caught the kerfuffle between Izzo and Brown, following an open jumper by UCLA's Jaime Jaquez Jr. at the end of the first half. The shot allowed the Bruins to close within 44-33 at the break.
The Jaquez look was the result of a failed defensive switch between Brown and Malik Hall. The teammates had a confrontation of their own before Izzo and Brown argued as they headed toward the tunnel. As Brown walked away, Izzo grabbed Brown’s arm and his jersey as the player kept heading up the tunnel.
The spat led to a spirited debate in the TBS halftime studio and on social media. For Izzo's former players, however, it was another day at the office.
Golden State Warriors star Draymond Green, an All-American with the Spartans in 2011-12, called it a "typical Michigan State exchange" in a tweet.
"That's what winning looks like!" he followed up, in a game the Spartans lost in overtime, 86-80.
Brandon Wood, who played at Michigan State in 2011-12 after transferring from Valparaiso, tweeted it was "one of the parts of Izzo's coaching style I respected the most."
"That situation going into the tunnel was nothing!" he tweeted. "He allowed his players to challenge him and he's coming right back at you! I bet he was hype after that."
Green and Wood were not alone in their defense of Izzo and the situation.
The situation was reminiscent of an exchange along the bench between Izzo and Aaron Henry in an NCAA Tournament game two seasons ago that set social media and college basketball observers ablaze, but was downplayed by both Izzo and Henry.
“It was just coaching,” Henry said then. “And people are blowing it up more than what it is.”
Similarly, Izzo called the situation Thursday night "a normal nothing" after the loss.
“You guys are beautiful,” Izzo said. “He missed a play and I told him. He walked away and I told him to come back. We went through this a couple of years ago. A game like that, that's the question you're going to ask me? I guess I'll answer it because the media has the right to ask whatever question.
“It was a normal nothing. It's just that this day and age everything is something. It was over a missed switch that we had talked about.”
Locker rooms were closed for the tournament. Brown was not available for comment.